The Week

Thea’s response was published on on April 17, 2014

Art is a reaction to the human condition. It is not a justification for discrimination.

Recently, The Week‘s Matt Lewis argued that photographers, being artists, should have the right to not work at same-sex weddings based on freedom of expression grounds. The argument, essentially, is that while bakers may be subject to anti-discrimination laws, and thus barred from refusing service to same-sex weddings, artists like photographers ought to get a pass since their work is so tied up with the First Amendment. Ultimately, Lewis is trying to convince us that a wedding photographer is an artist and a baker is an artisan.

First off, being an artist is not, and has never been, a justification to violate anti-discrimination laws. Freedom of expression may protect an artist from having his or her work banned, but it cannot protect an artist before any artwork has been produced. Technically speaking, New Mexico photographer Elaine Huguenin could legally express her anti-gay views through art. But to refuse to do business with someone based on their sexual orientation? That’s against the law.

But even if it weren’t: Wedding photography is rarely art.

Who is an artist? Who is an artisan? What is the difference? Well, an artist is someone who makes art. An artisan is someone who practices a craft. That is the simple part.

The difference between art and craft is where this gets tricky. The tools to create art and craft are often the same. And even the best and brightest in the field of art theory have grappled with a universal definition of art…

Want to read more about what Thea had to say about the difference in art and craft, and why a stance like the one Elaine Huguenin took is bad for business? Read the article in full here.